Friday, 2 June 2017

First impressions for new season @ Sea Synergy

First Impressions
By Christie O’Toole, Sinead Kelly, Esmee Bannenberg and Cian McGuinness
Hi, I’m Christie and I’ll be with Sea Synergy for the whole summer.  I’m really excited to be part of such a fantastic place with a very important message.  I did my undergraduate degree in Marine Science in NUI Galway and have recently completed my MSc in Marine Biology in UCC.  I have had a deep love for all things marine since I was a young girl growing up next to the ocean in west Mayo playing on the beach, surfing, looking for critters in rockpools and out fishing in my dad’s curragh.  I love SCUBA diving, snorkelling, hiking, travelling, rugby and reading…I’m happiest when I’m active and in, on or under the sea!

I have been in Waterville for 2 weeks now and I’m loving every second.  I’ve been helping get Sea Synergy up and running for its opening on June 1st and also exploring the area and finding my feet in my new surroundings.  So far I have been discovering the wonders of the seashore with local school groups, carrying out seal surveys from headlands, whale and dolphin surveys from boats, snorkelling, diving, and attending courses; there is always more to learn!  I also got the opportunity to hike to the top of Skellig Michael which was such a special experience.  It is an amazing place with so much history, as well as being the beautiful home to many different types of seabird including gannets and puffins.  This is just one of the unforgettable memories I have made since arriving in Waterville.  Sea Synergy is a wonderful place and I can’t wait for what the rest of the summer will bring.  The centre allows me to share my passion for the marine world with the public while also getting out in nature regularly, expanding my knowledge, and enjoying the beauty of Kerry and all it has to offer.  We live in a gorgeous country with so much biodiversity; it is fantastic to be in a place which showcases this to everyone who visits!    
“Hey there! My name’s Sinead and I’m studying for a master’s degree in Applied Coastal and Marine Management, with a bachelors degree in Geology. I’m from Killarney which is only an hour or so from Waterville but prior to this summer I have never ventured down here. Although I’m disappointed that I haven’t discovered the beauty of Waterville before two weeks ago, I’m happy to have discovered this gem now. I was delighted when I received an intern position at Sea Synergy with Lucy Hunt, as I wanted to get the opportunity to make more people aware of the marine biodiversity and resources associated with the ocean. I’ve been here the bones of two weeks now and I’ve already seen and done so much.
Last weekend I took part in a course run by Seasearch Ireland and on the first day of the course I learnt how to correctly identify different types of seaweed and animals seen around the Irish coast. On the second day, I went snorkelling off Abbey Island in Derrynane, in Co. Kerry, where I recorded all the different types of animals and seaweeds I encountered in the lower intertidal zone. The day after the Seasearch course I got the opportunity to go out to Skellig Michael, a UNESCO world heritage site and see the world famous monastic site, puffins and the second largest gannet colony in the world on Skellig Beag. I spent the remainder of the day recording cetaceans around Scariff Island. The calm seas made for ideal conditions to monitor cetaceans and over the course of two hours, slowly but surely our boat became surrounded by over 60 common dolphins leaping, jumping, and playing in every direction. Two minke whales were also observed off Skellig Michael.  I feel so lucky to partake in the wonderful work Lucy is doing down here, in such a beautiful part of the country and I’m looking forward to making more people aware of what’s out there in the deep blue, if they just take a moment to stop and look out, they won’t be disappointed!”

Hi there! My name is Esmee and I came down from the Netherlands to help out in the Sea Synergy sea life centre this summer.

Just like many others, as a small kid living near the sea I fell in love with the ocean. As I grew older I became aware of the threats to the ocean such as overfishing, warming of the ocean and the huge amounts of (plastic) litter present. In an attempt to figure out how to protect our beautiful nature I started studying forest and nature conservation in the Netherlands. I am now halfway in my graduate degree focussing on protection of marine nature in developing countries.

Because of my love for marine animals, travelling and giving education, I applied for an internship at Sea Synergy and I feel very lucky that I have been given the opportunity to come to Ireland and learn even more about the marine environment and education. The minute I got out of the bus and saw the dolphin tail sticking out of one of the beautiful coloured houses, I knew this was going to be a great summer! While waiting for Lucy to pick me up at the pub, I started talking to some very friendly locals and learned some of the Irish customs, all while drinking my first Guinness ;)

My first impressions so far are great and the weather is being very kind to us. Although even in sunshine the dives into the water are very cold… I am excited to start helping out during the workshops or even create a new workshop (specific requests are always welcome ;)) and provide fun facts to people visiting the sea life centre.  Oh and a first impression not to forget: the mountains are great! Since we don’t have any mountains back home, I really enjoy them while I still can.

Hello, my name is Cian, an Earth Science graduate of University College Cork. I’m writing while out on a seal survey, sitting just at the end of the prom, and the seals are loving the sun. I first arrived into Waterville on a clear afternoon in mid-May. The car was packed with my wetsuit, fins, guitar, hiking boots, motorcycle tools (my bike yet to be ridden up), and heap of other gear ready for the summer ahead. I was just catching my breath after driving through the Ballaghisheen Pass, a wild and beautiful stretch of road considered a shortcut to locals but just about put me in the ditch around every other bend, and, while taking in the surroundings, I was excited! Excited that I wasn’t just visiting this beautiful seaside village for an ice-cream and stroll along the prom. I was here for a whole summer by the sea, something I have always desired to do. Soon Lucy arrived on her bicycle and welcomed me to Waterville.
Growing up in Cork, our house well within earshot of the M8, I found going to sleep on the first night in Waterville unusual. The silence was almost deafening. I couldn’t get over how calm and silent it gets here at night. Two weeks on and it still hits me sometimes but I very much appreciate it, it is a welcomed quiet. Living in the west you cannot help but to embrace your surroundings. I wake each morning, opening the curtains, excited to see how the canvas has been painted. Today the sky was clear, the sun defining the undulating crests and troughs of the mountains. It’s safe to say I’m loving life here!
I am delighted to have to opportunity to work with Lucy, Sinead, Esmee, and Christie this summer at Sea Synergy. Being the only boy though I’m getting to do my fair share of ‘man-work’ in haha! I hope this summer at Sea Synergy, having focused my undergraduate thesis on marine waste, to encourage visitors in understanding the importance they play in protecting the preciousness and beauty of our planet's marine species and environments - now under greater threat than ever before.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Shine a Light on Summer Festival

Life Beneath the Lighthouse workshop
Discover Life Beneath the Lighthouse and what lies beneath the Wild Atlantic Way with local marine biologist Lucy Hunt from Sea Synergy Marine Awareness & Activity Centre. Lucy will reveal the marine life lighthouse keepers and their families would have seen whilst living on the edge between land and ocean! This fantastic interactive show and tell presentation of Irish sea life is suitable for all ages. Be amazed at the size of some of the largest animals in the world found along Irelands coast and the rich heritage we have with these animals. Also get up close and personal with some of the smallest critters in the sea that are so important to our survival. Learn the names of the animals we see along our shores and be surprised at the diversity of the ocean!

Lucy is bringing her Life Beneath the Lighthouse presentation to Valentia Lighthouse for the nationwide Shine A Light Festival. See Lucy and all her seashore friends at 3pm in Valentia Lighthouse on Sunday the 30th of April.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Hope you are well and Storm Ewan hasn't caused too much disruption wherever you are! When the storm passed here this afternoon we had glorious blue skies and sunshine before sunset over the bay. We have had a busy start to February with school bookings for the Marine Explorers Programme for primary schools and Heritage in Schools Programme which will have me out and about traversing the nation teaching all things marine to primary schools in the coming weeks.

Also last week we had a UCD SMARTLAB seminar in Cahersiveen for international and local PhD students of which I'm delighted to say I am now part of the cohort, I am starting a PhD on Marine Education influencing youths wellbeing and environmental stewardship!! A new chapter begins! The event was also featured in The Examiner as we had a fabulous Light Tipi ceremony in Cahergeal fort to get the week long seminar off to a good start!

The Failte Ireland Skellig Coast Visitor Experience Development Plan has also been launched a project where all the communities from Kells to Castlecove came together with agencies such as Failte Ireland, SKDP, LEO, Kerry County council & Udaras na Gaeltachta to put a tourism plan in place for the region. We will have Skellig Coast representatives at one of the largest Tourism conferences in the world - ITB Berlin in March, so it is exciting to get our special part of the world out to such a huge international audience with over 7000 exhibitors! We also spoke to Frank Lewis on Radio Kerry about the new plan.

We have been shortlisting our interns for Sea Synergy and interviews planned with them this week. Its looking like its going to be a cracker of a season with lots of workshops, camps, activities and surveys for the summer planned! Keep an eye on our facebook  page to stay up to date.

Clean Coasts Roadshow in Tralee Bay Wetlands 4th of March (see poster attached)

Burrenbeo Learning Landscapes on the 9-12th of March in Kinvara, Co Galway.

I will be running a weekend Introduction to Irelands Marine Life course for UCC on the 24-26th of March in Cahersiveen Adult Education Centre for anybody interested in learning about Ireland’s fantastic sea life from small seashore animals to largest animals on Earth. More info is available on the link above. registration instructions on the above link.
Also that weekend a fantastic astronomy weekend in Irelands only Gold Tier Dark sky Reserve - Messiers Marathon in Ballinskelligs

I’m delighted to say Alex of Carey Yoga & Nutrition  and I are teaming up again to do our Boost retreat in May 12-14th for anyone who wants a boost for their New Years resolutions and have a fun relaxing nurturing weekend. We are located in the beautiful Danu House in Chapeltown, Valentia (€320pp inclusive of all meals, accommodation, yoga, nutrition, mindfulness and guided walk sessions over the weekend) please email to book in for a weekend invested in you or for more information.

Seasearch Observers Course  May 27-28th for any Scuba divers and snorkellers interested in surveying our beautiful coastline and learning more about survey techniques and marine biodiversity. 

The Iveragh Learning Landscapes weekend will be back in Autumn due to popular demand from the 6-8th of October!! A weekend of empowered learning outdoors in the Iveragh classroom!  We have some great talks and workshops planned.
Last Friday was Annual Skip the Straw Day, plastic drink straws are one of the biggest marine litter problems adding to the plastic in the ocean. These straws can kill marine wildlife like turtles. Scientists believe that by 2050 there will be more plastic (by weight) in the sea than there will be fish! A horrifying fact for all of us. You can help reduce plastic by simply asking for 'No straw please' when getting a drink or use your own alternatives you can purchase steel straws and bamboo straws that are much more environmentally friendly.

As Spring is on the way Dandelions and other perennials sometimes thought of as 'weeds' will be springing up, please don't spray them with harmful chemicals. Leave them add colour to your garden or verges and help the bees. Some of these plants are are also extremely beneficial to us and can help relieve common ailments, don't just believe me ask expert herbalist Niall Hogan from Derrynane Clinic!

Look forward to seeing you soon,
Have an awesome few weeks til next time! :)

Monday, 16 January 2017


Hope you all had a fantastic festive season with friends and family. I was delighted to spend Christmas with the whole family this year at home in lovely Waterville. We participated in the chilly Christmas swim and due to the amazing weather we got out on lots of lovely beach walks, headland walks, cycled, hiked Carrantuohill with Pat Falvey and thoroughly enjoyed what Kerry has to offer!
I also attended an excellent event in Dublin last week the Pendulum Summit where I learnt from some of the World’s best inspirational speakers and business developers a great way to start 2017!

I’m delighted to say we had the first aquariums in classes in Kerry last November/December as part of the Marine Explorers Programme for primary schools for the Marine Institute. Students in Waterville, Ballinskelligs, Valentia and Caherdaniel really enjoyed looking after their new fishy friends! This month aquariums will be placed in Ballymacgelligot, Tahilla, Cillin Liath and Portmagee. Students in these schools have all completed lovely projects on marine biodiversity as part of the Explorers programme.

Lots of calls from schools all over the country coming in for Heritage in Schools workshops too so I’m looking forward to a busy start to the year and introducing lots of primary school students to all things marine, biodiversity, conservation and Leave No Trace. The school visits provide additional education on the natural environment and are part funded by the Heritage Council. If you work in a school or know anyone who does please pass on this information! Follow the link below to find out how to book a visit :

If you would like to get involved in either of these programmes for schools please email me on or pass my details onto your school principle if you would like their school to be involved in either of these programmes.

Photos are up on our Facebook page and you can read the blog  from our Mindfulness at Sea in the Caribbean trip. It was really beautiful sailing around the BVI’s and USVI’s and everyone enjoyed their guided meditations, mindful discussions, exploring and adventures! I will be starting Mindfulness in Nature walks again this summer so watch this space.

I will be running a weekend Introduction to Irelands Marine Life course on the 24-26th of March in Cahersiveen Adult Education Centre for anybody interested in learning about Ireland’s fantastic sea life from small seashore animals to largest animals on Earth. More info is available on the link above.
The IveraghLearning Landscapes weekend will be back in Autumn due to popular demand from the 13-15th of October!! A weekend of empowering learning outdoors in the Iveragh classroom! If you can’t wait that long I highly recommend the Burrenbeo Learning Landscapes on the 9-12th of March.

2016 was a great year for Sea Synergy with two award nominations: Irish Responsible Tourism Award and Ocean Hero Award. Here’s to a successful, happy healthy year for everyone!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Intern positions for 2017 summer with Sea Synergy

Marine biology volunteer positions available at Sea Synergy Marine Awareness and Activity Centre, Waterville, Co. Kerry, Ireland: 2016 summer season

Sea Synergy is a Marine Awareness and Activity Centre set up by marine biologist Lucy Hunt in her hometown; the beautiful coastal village Waterville located on the famed picturesque Ring of Kerry and Wild Atlantic Way driving routes in SW Ireland. For more info please visit .The centre opened in the summer of 2014 and since then has been shortlisted for Maritime tourism Award, Irish Responsible Tourism Award and the Ocean Heroes Award.

The marine awareness centre incorporates an interactive marine exhibition of Irish marine life, a small gift shop and a booking office for marine activities in the area. Marine awareness and education programmes are run from the centre throughout the summer including children and adult beach workshops, snorkelling, nature surveys, hatchery and lake tours, summer camps and indoor presentations. Sea Synergy is involved in and reports to a number of ongoing research projects such as Coastwatch, Seasearch, IWDG reporting schemes.

There are four full time volunteer positions available for end of May – end Sept 2017. Preference will be given to candidates that can volunteer for longer periods of time and who fit the below requirements. (More positions may also be available in August so please include how long you can come for and when you are available).  

Education and Outreach officer duties :
Working alongside owner of Sea Synergy you will:
·       Develop the marine education programme
·       Supervise children and adult marine workshops on the beaches and in the centre
·       Show people around the exhibition centre
·       Generate marine awareness presentations and games
·       Give marine wildlife presentations
·       Provide marine wildlife talks on boats when possible
·       Host travelling marine workshops
·       Create educational and promotional resources
·       Promote social networking and public relations
·       Social media reporting and advertising of activities & workshops
·       Assist in research and field survey work
·       Work in gift shop/booking office/exhibition reception

Research development officer duties
Working alongside owner of Sea Synergy you will:
·       Develop research and survey programme incl. Coastwatch, Shore Thing, local nature studies & trails, Citizen Science; seal surveys, IWDG
·       Record, organise data and report to relevant organisations
·       Supervise local headland watches for marine mammals and birds
·       Organise and conduct public whale watches from local headland
·       Set up and attend boat based surveys when possible
·       Provide talks/presentations on marine wildlife and survey involvement
·       Encourage the public in surveys - citizen science
·       Teach children and public survey methods
·       Promote social networking and public relations
·       Social media reporting and advertising of citizen science surveys & events
·       Work in gift shop/ exhibition reception & centre/booking office

Important skills/qualifications

·       Background in marine biology/environmental science or similar 
·       Keen interest in marine conservation and education
·       First Aid skills
·       Be enthusiastic and possess a caring, patient & positive attitude, with a strong desire to learn
·       Previous boating experience (for research officer)
·       Strong commitment to volunteering work
·       Must be able use to use own initiative and have desire for independent actions/thoughts and work without continuous supervision
·       Ability to work well in a team
·       Confidence to interact with the public, especially children
·       Excellent verbal and writing/reporting skills
·       Good organizational and workload management skills
·       Good IT skills

·       Strong interest in and knowledge of Irish marine biodiversity
·       Previous experience snorkeling or scuba diving certificate 
·       Previous experience in public speaking
·       Marketing and social media skills
·       Previous experience working with children
·       Previous experience in survey work (e.g. headland watches, coastal surveys)
·       Previous experience in data handling
·       Previous experience with aquaria
·       Ability to work long hours outdoors in variable weather
·       Capability to work well on boats
·       Life saving and Advanced First Aid skills
·       Have own transport

·       Live in one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland for the summer
·       See some of Ireland’s amazing marine life on watches and surveys
·       Snorkel, scuba dive and observe Ireland’s coastal waters
·       Work with like-minded and enthusiastic team
·       Visit UNESCO world heritage site Skellig Micheal
·       Be part of survey vessels, wildlife tour boats and Skellig trips
·       Develop your skills in marine surveying, outreach, education and awareness
·       Gain experience with Waterville Lakes & Rivers Trust in salmon and seatrout conservation measures

To view more of Sea Synergy and the area where you could be working watch this video clip from a programme featured on TV3 Lucy Hunt - Sea Synergy Waterville, Co. Kerry
Or see our schools promo clip on our new Youtube channel

Shared accommodation can be arranged with the Sea Synergy team at your own expense (ranging from €50-70pw depending on house availability).

Please send a cover letter with your CV and available times for summer 2017 to Lucy Hunt at withEMAIL TITLE: 2017 INTERN POSITION. Application deadline is 20th of Feb 2017. Interviews will be conducted in March via skype/tel or in person. For more information please send an email to  titled 2017 INTERN POSITION or call +353 (0) 877850929.

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Thursday, 10 November 2016

November newsletter

Hope you are well and you have enjoyed some time in the fine crisp cold weather we have been having the past few weeks! A lot of changes being happening around the world and with nature too as the days shorten animals are getting ready for hibernation. Sea Synergy marine awareness centre is too in hibernation as we are now closed for the winter until summer 2017, but that doesn’t mean that we have stopped; in fact I'm really happy to say it is one of my busiest autumns here at home in Ireland!

Now listed as one of the Heritage in schools Experts I have been out to lots of primary schools introducing them to all things marine, biodiversity, conservation and Leave No Trace. The school visits provide additional education on the natural environment and are part funded by the Heritage Council. If you work in a school or know anyone who does please pass on this information! Follow the link below to find out how to book a visit :

Also this year I’m very happy to say I have been given the honour of rolling out the Marine Institutes fully funded Marine Explorers Programme for primary schools in Kerry! This is a fantastic programme for 3-6th classes to discover the wonders of the ocean and how we are inextricably interconnected with it! It includes projects on marine biodiversity, having an aquarium in your school and a seashore safari as well as great lesson plans and resources for teachers! If you would like to get involved in either of these programmes for schools please email me on

Also for Science week we have been visiting secondary schools to let students know what marine scientists work is like and show them some of the cool animals we get to hang out with!

In October I was delighted to be awarded silver in the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards forBest Natural Heritage Tourism for Sea SynergyThank you to everyone who wished us luck and congratulated us on our Silver award. I had a lovely day at the Irish Responsible Tourism Conference in Dublin and was delighted by the result!
We organised the first Iveragh Learning Landscapes Symposium from the 14-16th of October which was a huge success! We were blown away by all the enthusiasm, excitement and fantastic feedback we have had from all our participants! The two day event in Waterville and Caherdaniel was focused on place based learning, outdoor education, nature connection and heritage through talks, workshops and guided walks. We had over 80 attendees from all different walks of life travelling from all over the country and Europe. These are the type of events we need in rural Ireland to help connect people with their place, extend the tourism season and empower people to have the confidence to teach outdoors so I am delighted it went so well! Keep an eye on the Iveragh Learning Landscapes Facebook page to keep up to date on next year’s event, scheduled for October 2017! For more info on the event this year see the report attached.

I had a fun afternoon with John and Kerryann from Atlantic Irish Seaweed on the Frank Lewis show on Radio Kerry talking rock pooling, foraging and folklore.  Listen in on the podcast just click the link :

A few places still left on our Sea Self- Mindfulness @ Sea; 10th-18th December –St. Thomas; US & British Virgin IslandsWant to get away from the cold and busyness before Xmas? Come back refreshed and revived for the Christmas festivities? A trip of a lifetime amidst the beautiful turquoise waters of the Caribbean awaits! Spend 9 days/8 nights aboard the 72ft yacht; Sea Dragon to reconnect with nature and yourself and discover one of the best places to be mindful – at sea. Spaces limited, more information and booking see

IT Tralee Seminar SeriesWe recently attended a day’s seminar held by the BA Outdoor Learning students at IT Tralee. It was a very insightful event attended by like-minded people looking into High Quality Outdoor Learning (HQOL) in Ireland in the 21st century. There was also a webinar for those who could not attend the event in person. It was lovely to see a few familiar faces from our recent Iveragh Learning Landscapes Symposium! The next seminar will be held on the 9th December. Email for more information and to book your place as places book up fast.

Also I will be running a Marine wildlife and heritage course for UCC ‘s  Adult Continuing Education department in Spring 2017, Dates to be confirmed but  it will be here in SW Kerry! If you would like a weekend of fun learning about our fantastic marine wildlife & heritage in the beautiful Iveragh Peninsula please contact me to find out more.  

And last but most definitely not least, one of our longest staying interns at Sea Synergy; Louise King will be leaving us on Monday so we wish her well on her new adventures and work placement in Plymouth aquarium! Thanks for all the help this year! As many people do she too has fallen in love with lovely Iveragh and assures everyone she will be back J

Lots of great plans coming for 2017! Including our Optimum You Wellness workshops and retreats in January with Carey Yoga & Nutrition!! So be sure to keep up to date on our Facebook page: LH Marine & Sea Synergy not to miss out!

Have an awesome winter! Look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Sea Synergy team for 2016! Thanks everyone xx